Authorities blacklist more movies
Thanks to the vigilance of the Belarusian authorities new items are regularly added to the list of ‘extremist’ (prohibited) cinema and video production. At present this list includes the movie Lesson of the Belarusian Language by the Polish film producer Miroslaw Dembinski, the video recording of the concert Solidary with Belarus from Warsaw and even CDs with photos of the protest action during the presidential elections 2006. These materials were confiscated from Mahiliou journalist Alexander Burakou and were declared ‘extremist’ by verdict of a judge of Kastrychnitski district court of Hrodna Alexander Burakou.
Political censorship in the field of culture has been actively used in Belarus since the middle of 1990-ies. Though the law On counteraction to extremism came into force only in 2007, Yury Khashchavatski’s Usual President was among the first films put on the black list, as it by no means could comply with the ideological standards of the present authorities. Soon the same happened to the artworks of Uladzimir Khalip, Viktar Dashuk, Leanid Mindlin and other authors of documentary films. It is noteworthy that all of them have won prestigious international prizes, but are outlaws in their native land.
The policy of separating artists into loyal and disloyal has not only survived in the third millennium, but even gained stronger positions. In particular, recently the Bureau of the Ministry of Culture for registration and classification of cinema and video production has refused to give legal status to the films Way Home. Requiem and Occupation.Mysteries. The freshest example is the ban of the Tuteishyia TV-play, shot on the order of the BelSat TV channel.
The head of the bureau Uladzimir Kurlovich officially informed the film producers Valer Mazynski and Dariusz Szado Bazhaszkowski that the film ‘distorts the sense and the artistic direction of Yanka Kupala’s play, which presents to the spectators the wrong view on the creative work of the classic of the Belarusian literature and also affects their dignity’. The censors also found ‘manifestations of chauvinism and national exceptionality in the final part, which is inadmissible’. Bear in mind that earlier the same play in the version of stage director Mikalai Pinihin was prohibited in Kupala Theater in Minsk. Besides, the play was prohibited during almost all time of the existence of the USSR.
The letter received by the authors of the Tuteishyia TV-play resembles the one received by the authors of Daroha Dadomu.Requiem, a documentary film dedicated to another classic of the Belarusian literature, Vasil Bykau. “Representatives of the expert board of cinema art, the classification commission of the State register, the Republican expert commission for prevention of propaganda of pornography…. took part in discussion of the film dedicated to recollections about a war veteran, writer Vasil Bykau, most of whose books about war had been already screened… However, nothing is said about Bykau as writer and the film can have a negative impact on the moral and ethical fundamentals of the life of the Belarusian people. In connection with the abovementioned reasons, you are refused in the issue of the state public broadcasting certificate.’
By the way, it is permitted to officially show and distribute films only in the case such certificate is issued. That’s why the refusal to issue this document can mean not only prohibition for public broadcast of an artwork, but also prohibition to profession for its autors.